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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Brainwork City Lights (2011)

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

This Brainwork's album gives a second breathe to his Berlin School style

1 Lights On 9:22

2 City Lights 9:02

3 Sparkling Lights 9:12

4 Berlin City 10:09

5 Dark Lights 9:33

6 Summer Lights 7:27

(CD-R 55:59) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

The last Brainwork album, Earcatcher, had left me on my appetite. Uwe Saher redeems himself and comes to fill my ears with a splendid opus. CITY LIGHTS is a charming and bewitching album where he puts on his BW suit to concoct minimalist rhythms that pile up in crossroads worthy of the enchanting hypnotic movements of the Berlin School. The Berlin synthesist floods our ears with rhythms and ambiances as diverse than jazz, synth-pop and soft techno that are tied to sinuous hypnotic movements, sometimes dynamic but mostly bewitching. CITY LIGHTS is bathed in the contemporary Berlin School where rhythms and sequences go hand in hand with melodious, romantic and melancholic structures. A great album that should be listened to with the ears wide open in order to catch the subtleties of the minimalist rhythms.

Fragile arpeggios with a glass tone are jumping around in a delicate alternating motion, like a prism carousel, to open the soft and romantic Lights On. They yield their circular motion to another set of limpid chords that swirl to match this delicate dreamy ballet. In the purest Berlin School tradition, Lights On emits a series of chords that follow the rotations established by the original arpeggios, amplifying the depth of a slow, melodic and hypnotic rhythm whose fragility survives the onslaught of a bass line and electronic percussions. The rhythm growing of emotivity, the title gets heavier. A static heaviness supported by a dreamy melody and crossed by a synth haze that floats like a lost thought, while synth solos swirl and lament above heavy reverberations. Stealthy muffled chords undulate over a nebulous ascending line to initiate City Lights. Slowly the rhythm becomes groovy with a good bass line of which the sensual movement is hidden by good percussions' strokes. Keyboard layers and riffs add more bite to the music whose superb trumpet and saxophone solos intertwine to undulate with sensuality, consolidating the groovy and lounge approach of this tasty track. Sparkling Lights is another good track in the genre of Lights On, except that the circular movement is slightly more accentuated. A stream of nervous sequences flows under the breaths of an ethereal voice. An intensely melancholic intro that percussion and keyboard riffs animate with a finely jerky structure. Stirring, the synth screams superb solos made of loneliness and of melancholy. Solos which furrow a movement where a strange sadness emerges from this title which breaks the soul. And the solos... Hum, quite poignant!

Berlin City offers a tasty mix of hypnotic Berlin School and a slightly wilder rhythm, a bit like Element 4 but less heavy. A powerful line of a sequencer gets in the game with frenetic jumping pulses. Another line surrounds this first rhythmic framework with clearer arpeggios that flicker stealthily. Some synth layers throw a zest of melody, leading Berlin City to a more energetic rhythm with other sequences, more frenzied, which jump furiously in an exhilarating circular movement. A frenetic movement that percussions struggle to follow and where the moments of lull allow to breathe a little on a breathtaking structure with intertwined rhythms darted by superb synth solos. The flickering cymbals at the opening of Dark Lights don't commit to any future rhythm. Even if metallic percussions fall and embrace sequences that wriggle like a school of smelts surrounded by whales and even if these sequences multiply in intertwined movements, the rhythm of Dark Lights remains imperturbably bewitching. Turning on itself and constantly increasing its rhythmic depth, the rhythm remains dark and static. It even becomes melancholic with this delicate mist falling from a fiery sky. On the contrary, Summer Lights moves on a rhythm bursting with energy, a bit like in Berlin City, with synth layers that cover sequences jumping in a furious rotatory movement. The music is good and lively with a heavy movement that jumps in a techno atmosphere, fed with good percussions, a nice bass line and sequences with a xylophone tone that are overflown by superb synth solos as lyrical as incisive. A very catchy and melodious track that fits well in this musical journey that is both haunting and melodious.

Oh, how I liked CITY LIGHTS! Quite unexpectedly, this latest Brainwork effort gives a second wind to his Berlin School style with a panoply of minimalist movements that Uwe Saher adorns with beautiful tenderness and melodies that fill us with nostalgia. For our greatest pleasure, he returns to his usual style and offers us a must-have album where melodies, sequences, ambiences and minimalist rhythms are entwined in bewitching and hypnotic structures. A must and certainly one of the 10 best in 2011.

Sylvain Lupari (October 8th, 2011) *****

Available at Brainwork Music

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